McBEY, James

1883 - 1959

James McBey

James McBey was born at near Foveran on the north-east coast of Scotland on 23 December 1883, illegitimate son of a Newburgh blacksmith’s daughter Annie McBey. McBey grew up in Newburgh and educated at the village school and in 1899, with his mother and grandmother, Mary Gillespie, they moved to Aberdeen where James became a clerk in a local bank with whom he remained for some 11 years. McBey attended evening classes at Gray's School of Art at Aberdeen and taught himself etching on zinc plates using a domestic mangle to print the results. In 1910 he spent the summer in the Netherlands where he viewed etchings by Rembrandt and etched twenty-one plates of his own and in 1911, a year after resigning from the bank, McBey put on his first London art exhibition, where his prints were warmly received. He travelled widely, visiting Europe, North Africa and America and his etchings were exhibited at the Goupil Gallery in London in 1911 and his prints were published in both London and Glasgow. In 1912 McBey travelled to Morocco with James Kerr Lawson (1862-1939) and began working in watercolours. In January 1916, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Printing & Stationery Service based in Rouen, France and whilst on leave he completed two series of sketches 'France at her Furnaces', showing the munition works at Harfleur and some views of the Somme and was official artist to Egyptian Expeditionary Force 1917-1918. In 1921 an artist, painter and etcher living at 1 Holland Park Avenue, Notting Hill, Kensington and in 1929 he visited America and married in Manhattan, N.Y. on 13 March 1931, 25-year-old Marguerite Huntsberry Loeb (30 April 1905-21 October 1999), a photographer and bookbinder from Philadelphia, and the couple settled into his imposing home and studio at 1 Holland Park Avenue, Kensington. In 1932 the couple purchased a house near Tangier in Morocco and later bought a second property, El Foolk (the Ark), a substantial property on the Old Mountain, Marrakesh. In 1933 he exhibited at the Ipswich Art Society from 1 Holland Park Avenue, London W.11, a watercolour 'Seville Gate, Carmona' and the couple were still living at this address in 1939. During the Second World War, McBey lived in America and in 1942 became an American citizen. After the war he returned to live in Tangier, whilst making regular trips to both Britain and the United States. James McBey died in Tangier, Morocco on 1 December 1959. Marguerite, who was also a talented artist, donated many of her husband's paintings to the Aberdeen Art Gallery. He signed his works 'James McBey'.

Works by This Artist